Events & Awards

MJSA Announces Responsibly Sourced Design Challenge Winner

Events & AwardsDec 14, 2022

MJSA Announces Responsibly Sourced Design Challenge Winner

Finalist designs featured gemstones from Columbia Gem House and were auctioned off for charity.

Cady Carlson Dill of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Cady Carlson Designs had the winning design in this year’s MJSA Challenge, a competition produced in conjunction with Columbia Gem House and benefitting nonprofit organization Nest.
New York—Cady Carlson Dill of Cady Carlson Designs is the winner of the 2022 MJSA Challenge: Responsibly Sourced Design. 

The competition doubles as a fundraiser, with finished jewelry entries auctioned off to benefit a charitable organization. 

MJSA partnered with Columbia Gem House—a U.S.-based responsibly sourced colored gemstone supplier—on the competition and auction. 

Every year, the challenge invites designers to create a jewel based on a fictional scenario.

This year, jewelry makers were asked to develop a design for a woman who was given up for adoption as a baby and reunites with her biological sister in adulthood. 

Columbia Gem House donated metal and Oregon sunstone, Montana sapphire, Australian sapphire, and Brazilian citrine for designers to use in their final pieces. 

Dill’s entry was a bolo-style necklace with an 8 mm Oregon sunstone at its center, surrounded by sapphires.

“I wanted to express their shared family history with the stones,” Dill said of her fictional sister clients. “The idea of family connections made me think of the double helix shape of DNA—I didn’t want to literally create that shape, but instead create something inspired by it.”

The bolo necklace represents two individuals coming together, the gemstones representing their unification. 

Dill is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she designs with ethically sourced materials. Dill emphasizes recycling, often by reworking family heirlooms for her clients. 

Dill’s piece, along with the other seven entries, were auctioned off to benefit nonprofit organization Nest. In all, they raised $7,000. 

Nest aims to create a more inclusive and equitable world for artists, makers, and creatives.

The auction proceeds will specifically benefit Nest’s Makers United program, which will help one BIPOC jeweler scale their business.

“We wanted to select an organization that shared the beliefs of ethics and fairness, as well as [to] support those coming into the industry—particularly those who have traditionally had barriers to access,” says Natasha Braunwart, brand and corporate social responsibility manager of Columbia Gem House. 

“The maker community is the lifeblood of this industry, and we wanted to find a way to collectively support equality in the future of the space. The synergy we found with the Nest team really made them the perfect fit to be the recipient of this year’s fundraiser.”

Columbia Gem House Founder and President Eric Braunwart added, “Participating in this project, whether it be designing, voting, or bidding, supports the well-being of the greater community within the gem and jewelry industry.

“It’s a reminder that the work you do can celebrate those around you and still make a positive impact.”

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